Richard Henry Hunt (August 16th, 1951 - January 7th, 1992) was a longtime Muppeteer who is known for his many characters, his accomplished singing voice, & his warm backstage personality. Hunt brought many popular characters to life, including Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler, Sweetums, Junior Gorg, Don Music, Gladys the Cow, Sonny Friendly, Sully, the horns-up half of the Two-Headed Monster, Dip Cat, Placido Flamingo & Forgetful Jones. HUNT also was the performer of GRANDPA GROUCH, OSCAR THE GROUCH’s grandfather.
Since everyone in his family had worked in show business at some point, HUNT always felt he’d end up in entertainment too. While in middle school & high school, he put on puppet shows for local children, & he was a fan of the then-fledgling Muppets from a young age." I’d drop anything to watch them," he said,"I thought they were weird."
After high school graduation & a 4-month stint of doing weather reports at a local radio station, HUNT had his first inkling that he might join The Muppets. HUNT’s mother, Jane, recalled HUNT’s first meeting with JIM HENSON:
"Richard had been watching SESAME STREET, & he realized there might be an opportunity there. So he went to a phone booth, then he called HENSON Associates, & asked them, cold, if they were hiring puppeteers. Amazingly, Jim was auditioning people that very day. So Richard went right over to 67th Street. He was ushered into a room, & there were FRANK & JIM & Jerry & a box full of puppets. "They threw a puppet at me & said sit down", Richard later reported to me. "It was incredible. We just all talked together!! We knew right away we had the same sense of humor...& I think they liked me!""
HUNT’s 1st project was The Great Santa Claus Switch in 1970, along with FRAN BRILL. A few weeks later, he was invited to be in a workshop production. The newcomer was so good, that HENSON asked him to work a Muppet appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Once again he scored high marks, & in June 1972, Richard HUNT was hired full-time on SESAME STREET.
Hunt mostly performed background characters in early specials. 1 of his 1st major performances was as Taminella Grinderfall in The Frog Prince, Muppeteering the character while Jerry Juhl performed the voice. He also performed Mildred Huxtetter & Big Mouse in The Muppets Valentine Show, & many minor characters in The Muppet Show: Sex & Violence. He also performed Wisss on Saturday Night Live, & Charlie Beaver, Fred Lizard & George Rabbit on Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.
During his 1st few seasons on SESAME STREET, Hunt was basically a background performer, normally assisting other Muppeteers with characters (performing the right hands of certain characters, & performing the back half of Mr. Snuffleupagus) or performing characters to pre-recorded tracks. However, sooner or later, he became 1 of the main performers, performing several memorable characters as Sully, Sonny Friendly, Gladys the Cow, Don Music, the horns-up half of the Two-Headed Monster (right head), Dip the Cat, Placido Flamingo & Forgetful Jones. Hunt also appeared in the flesh on Episode 1576 as Cedric the birdwatcher, alongside Madeline Kahn.
Although a very main performer on the show, none of RICHARD HUNT’s SESAME STREET characters actually became major characters in the same way as CAROLL SPINNEY’s OSCAR THE GROUCH & BIG BIRD, FRANK OZ’s Cookie Monster, & eve n Kevin CLASH’s Elmo (who HUNT actually performed as a minor character from 1984 to 1985). Even after being a main Muppeteer, HUNT would often perform in SESAME STREET productions (like Christmas Eve on SESAME STREET & DON’t Eat the Pictures) where he didn’t perform character voices.
RICHARD HUNT served as a mentor to newer Muppeteers, especially David RUDMAN. Anytime that a new Muppeteer would join the set of SESAME STREET, HUNT was the 1st to officially haze & initiate them into the group. Despite this, he always took new Muppeteers to lunch, as well as anyone on the set who wanted to join him. He was known to often read the newspaper as he was performing a character & doing that character’s lines. Soon after RICHARD died, David RUDMAN took over at least 3 of his main characters from SESAME STREET: Sonny Friendly, RICHARD’s half of the Two-Headed Monster & Sully along w/ taking Richard’s place to perform Dip the Cat to Kevin CLASH’s Chip the Cat once in a segment for Monsterpiece Theater.
Richard Hunt was also 1 of the main performers on The Muppet Show, & 1 of 5 performers to be a regular performer on all 5 seasons. His main character was Scooter, but he also performed other characters like Beaker, Statler, Janice, & Sweetums. During season 1, he shared the role of Miss Piggy w/ FRANK OZ, but by the end of season 1, Miss Piggy became OZ’s main character, & HUNT no longer performed her.
Richard Hunt has also been noted for his fine singing voice. As Scooter he sang such songs as "There's a New Sound", At the Hop" & "Six String Orchestra". He also performed Wayne, who was part of the singing duo Wayne & Wanda, & though the 2 stopped appearing after season 2 after Wanda's performer, Eren Ozker had left the show, Wayne eventually came back to make solo appearances every no w & then, singing such songs as "For Me & My Goyle" & "Catch a Falling Star". Despite Hunt’s singing voice & the fact that Janice was a musician, playing guitar for the Electric Mayhem, Janice seldom sang lead vocals in songs. She did have 2 major lead-singing performances, singin g "With a Little Help from My Friends" & "Rockin' Robin".
In the 1981 book Of Muppets & Men, Christopher Finch described Hunt’s endless energy & humor." He seems to get more unadulterated pleasure from performing than anyone else in the organization," Finch wrote. "When he is not working on camera, he is apt to have Scooter or Beaker, or Janice -- anyone -- on his ARM for the purpose of entertaining visitors to the studio. If there are no visitors a round, he will attempt to entertai n his co-workers... Like Jerry Nelson, he is a versatile on-camera performer, but his importance to the show derives also from his off-camera personality. He makes the crew laugh, jokes with the guest star, clowns for the shop personnel. He is 1 of the chief reasons for the loose atmosphere that exists around Studio D despite the pressure & the slow pace that are endemic to TV production."
On Fraggle Rock, Richard HUNT had 2 major characters, Junior Gorg & Gunge. He also performed a few fairly minor & 1-shot guest characters, & he originally performed The Storyteller Fraggle (before Terry Angus took over). Richard was most involved with the show during season 1, since UNlike Sprocket or the main 5 Fraggles, his characters weren't needed for every (or almost every) episode. After that season, as the background performers began to do more character voices on the show, Hunt performed less frequently on the series, spending his extra time on SESAME STREET. According to Terry Angus, "After the 1st season, RICHARD didn’t come in as much cause his characters weren’t really called for that often & all of us Canadians were given a chance to do characters every now & then which gave Richard an easier time of it. Plus, he was going down to work on SESAME STREET."
Richard HUNT also assisted in the audition process for background Muppeteers on Fraggle Rock . HUNT made his directorial debut with the season 5 episode "The Honk of Honks." He also made a cameo as himself ("The Boss" director) in Fraggles Look for Jobs, the show’s wrap tape.
JERRY NELSON & RICHARD HUNT
RICHARD HUNT’s characters were often paired w/ the characters of JERRY NELSON. 1 example is, on SESAME STREET, HUNT’s Sully was the construction worker sidekick to NELSON’s Biff. For The Muppet Show, NELSON’s Floyd Pepper was often paired w/ HUNT’s Janice in musical numbers & also in a romantic relationship. Floyd also shared lead vocals in the "Mr. Bassman" number w/ Scooter, whose uncle, J.P. Grosse, Muppet Theater owner, was performed by NELSON also. HUNT performed Sweetums alongside 1 of NELSON’s characters, ROBIN THE FROG, (the nephew of JIM HENSON’s KERMIT THE FROG), in the song "Two Lost Souls", in episode 223, & ever since then, they’ve been the best of friends. Hunt also performed Junior Gorg, the son of NELSON’s Pa Gorg on Fraggle Rock. Also, while JERRY performed GRANNY GROUCH, OSCAR THE GROUCH’s grandmother, Richard performed GRANDPA GROUCH, OSCAR’s grandfather. They were never in the same scene together, but it shows yet another successful pairing.
Additionally, the 2 performers shared the role of the Two-Headed Monster. They also play the children in the Twiddlebug family w/ Hunt performing the son, Timmy Twiddlebug & Nelson performing the daughter, Tina Twiddlebug. Another notable team-up included HUNT’s role as Gunge, normally paired w/ Marjory the TRASH Heap (a NELSON character), in addition to DAVE GOELZ’s Philo character. Both performers had characters named after them in the band Little Jerry & the Monotones, w/ Hunt performing Rockin' Richard alongside NELSON’s Little Jerry. Muppeteer veteran David RUDMAN took over for both Richard’s half of the Two-Headed Monster & Sully after Richard passed away, keeping Richard’s legacy alive by working with Jerry.
JERRY NELSON recalled the relationship:
"Richard came into t he company when he was pretty young, & I kind-of took Richard under my wing, when he 1st came in, since FRANK & Jim were sort-of a team & I was like a straight man or foil that worked off their characters. So when Richard came in, we got to a point where we would work really well together. When 1 of us would start to go somewhere, the other would know what was happening. We played well together. Like with the Two-Headed Monster. We were just goofing around on the set 1 day, without a puppet even, & 1 of the writers was there & said, "What's that you’re doing?" & we said, "1 monster with 2 heads!" & they decided to do that. We had a lot of characters that worked together, like Floyd & Janice. We were good friends. When we had someplace to go, we would travel together. He was always so late that it used to drive me crazy. Eventually I’d say, "If you're there, I’ll see you at the plane. If you're not, I’ll see you where we’re going." Richard & I were like what Steve & Dave are now. You find somebody you work well with, & have that rapport with. I knew all of Richard’s family - his sisters & brother - & we’d spend time together."
JERRY NELSON/RICHARD HUNT Muppet Pairings
- The Two-Headed Monster
- Little Jerry/Rockin' Richard
- J.P. Grosse/Scooter
- Floyd Pepper/Janice
- Floyd Pepper/Scooter
- Floyd Pepper/Gladys
- Robin the Frog/Sweetums
- Robin the Frog/Scooter
- Robin the Frog/Statler
- Tina Twiddlebug/Timmy Twiddlebug
- Pa Gorg/Junior Gorg
- Marjory the TRASH Heap/Gunge (w/ Philo (performed by Dave Goelz))
- Coffee Break Machine/Luncheon Counter Monster
- Fred the Wonder Horse/Gladys the Cow
- Lew Zealand/Gladys
- Lew Zealand/Sweetums
- Lew Zealand/Scooter
- Count von Count/Grandpa Count (w/ Grandma Count (performed by Camille Bonora))
- Count von Count/Forgetful Jones
- Count von Count/The Countess
- Mickey Moose/Ronald Duck
- Melvin Milk/Carl Carrot
- Betty & Melissa Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
- Yvette & Danielle French Toast
- Miss Mousey/Big Mouse
- Lavender Anything Muppet Man/Canary ("Pretty Little Song")
- Lewis Kazagger/Contender 980116
- Vile Bunch Drummer/Blue Frackle
- Statler’s Grandson/Statler
- Sammy & Frankie
- Sacrificial Idol/Janice
- Whaddayasay Bird/Ohboy Bird
- Quongo/The Showman
- George and Melissa Rabbit
- Noel Cowherd/Billy the Grownup
- Sherlock Hemlock/Don Music
- Ernie/Bert (Peter Alexander präsentiert Spezialitäten)
- Cecil Bear/Edgar Bear (with Percival Bear (performed by David RUDMAN))
- The Christmas Toy Rabbits
- Uncle Deadly/Wayne
- Uncle Deadly/Scooter
- GRANNY GROUCH/GRANDPA GROUCH
- Stanley Weasel/Fred Lizard
- Trevor Trout/Spaceship Surprise Mate
- Sherlock Hemlock/Wodehouse
- Singing Firemen
- Readers of the Open Range
During the late 1980s, Richard HUNT was still active in new productions & performing new characters. He performed Tug Monster on the short-lived Little Muppet Monsters series, & The Wild Impresario on the short-lived Ghost of Faffner Hall. In specials, he performed Lugsy in The Tale of the Bunny Picnic & Belmont in The Christmas Toy.
HUNT had also occasionally appeared on-screen in movies & TV productions. He made an on-screen cameo as a taxi driver in The Great Muppet Caper, he played the role of Wilson in Trading Places, & he played the role of Larry in Oxford Blues. He also played the role of Del in JIM HENSON’s failed pilot Puppetman. He also spent an hour entertaining the audience during the taping of The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show. In addition to directing the aforementioned Fraggle Rock episode, Richard HUNT also directed the 1988 direct-to-video production Sing-Along, Dance-Along, Do-Along & also received full directing credits in Elmo’s Sing-Along Guessing Game & The BEST of Elmo.
But then, most unfortunately, Richard Henry Hunt died of AIDS-related complications in 1992. Among his last productions were The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, Muppet*Vision 3D, & Billy Bunny’s Animal Songs (the last of which was released in 1993, a year after his Death). Scooter, following HUNT’s death, was retired & absent as a character in all of the major Muppet productions till Muppets from Space, in which he was voiced by Adam Hunt, RICHARD HUNT’s surviving brother. He has since been perform ed by Matt Vogel, Brian Henson, Rickey Boyd &, also most recently & seemingly permanently, by DAVID RUDMAN, who carries Richard's legacy on to this very day, performing Scooter, Sully, Janice, Sonny Friendly (for a short time), Dip, & Richard's half of the Two-Headed Monster. Very few of his other characters (with the notable exceptions of Beaker, Statler, & Sweetums, who were h anded to Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson (& later Steve Whitmire), & JOHN HENSON (son of JIM HENSON) respectively) were recast w/ new performers for years. Many of his other characters were relegated to silent background roles, though a few, like have been gradually recast since then. Many of his other characters (like Forgetful Jones) were relegated to silent background roles, though several (such as Gladys the Cow) have been gradually recast since then. Most of HUNT’s main Muppet Show characters have been inherited by STEVE WHITMIRE & DAVID RUDMAN in recent productions, including 2011’s The Muppets.
According to his page on FindAGrave.com, Hunt was cremated. Some ashes were spread into the flower garden at the Hunt family home in New Jersey. Many panels were created in his honor for the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt, including 1 created by his friends in the Muppet Workshop.
Jon Stone, a former director for SESAME STREET, said this at t he time of Hunt's death: "It's impossible to imagine a world without Richard. He came to us a wide-eyed 18-year-old & grew into a master puppeteer & inspired teacher. No one ever had a more manic love of the outrageous & absurd; no one could ever make me laugh the way RICHARD could. A generation has grown up absorbing RICHARD’s art, & I have to believe that every one of them is a smart e r, funnier, stronger, sillier, more generous person because of him."
The Richard Hunt Spirit Award is annually presented at the SESAME STREET wrap party to the cast member who best honors the generosity in spirit & dedicated work of RICAHRD HUNT in their actions on set. The 2010 winner was Leslie Carrara-Rudolph.
- SESAME STREET Characters: Aristotle, The Beetles' Lead Singer, Billy the Grownup, Brad, Captain Vegetable (1983 - 1984), Carl the Cop, Cheerful, Dip, Don Music, Eddie, Elmo (1984 - 1985), Farmer Fowler, Fenwick la Touche, Flying Fish, Forgetful Jones, Sammy or Frankie, Lavender Frazzletone, Furline Huskie, Gilbert, Gladys the Cow, Grandpa Count, GRANDPA GROUCH, Green Alphabeat, Grenadier Guardsman, Harry, Harvey Monster (occasionally), Headline Howie, John, Kermit the Forg ("We Are All Monsters"), King Gerry’s Doctor, Leaky, Leo the Party Monster, a lettuce from "Grow High Grow Low", Lavender Librarian, Larry Rhymie, Little Red Riding Hood (1972), Madame Schwartzhead, Magic Mirror (Snow GROUCH), Maurice Monster (occasionally), Old McDougal, Mr. Moses, Mr. Snuffleupagus (back half, occasionally; assisting Jerry Nelson), Old King Cole’s Band Green fiddler & Lavender drummer, Old MacDonald (1980s), a pear from "Bilingual Fruit Song", Placido Flamingo(1986 - 1992), Potter Piper, "Readers of the Open Range" nameless Pumpkin cowboy, Richard, Rockin' Richard, Rocky the Cat, Rodeo Rosie (occasionally), Sonny Friendly (1986 - 1992), Spaceship Surprise Mate, Stan, Stuie Monster, Sully (1970s - 1992), Timmy Twiddlebug, Tommy, Tough Eddie (1980s), Two-Headed Monster (right head) (1978 - 1992), Umeko’s Friends, Victor, Willy Nilly, Witch, Yip Yip Martians, The Young Woman Who Lives in a Hat
- The Muppet Show Characters: African Mask (Mountain), Beagle, Beaker (1977 - 1992), Behemoth (episode 119: Vincent Price), Billy the Bear (episode 401: John Denver), Bobby Benson, Blue Frackle (episode 103: Joel Grey, episode 115: Candice Bergen, episode 202: Zero Mostel, episode 218: Jaye P. Morgan, episode 307: Alice Cooper), Bubba, Catgut, Clive Cahuenga, Contender 980116, Cows (episode 121: Twiggy), Doctor Pig, Droop (episode 220: Petula Clark), George, Geri & the Atrics (False Teeth), Ghost, Gingerbread Man, Gladys, The Gogolala Jubilee Jugband (Purple Whatnot), Gorgon Heap (episode 116: Avery Schreiber), Hat, Janice (1977 - 1992), Lenny the Lizard (episode 208: Steve Martin), Les, Lubbock Lou (occasionally), Luncheon Counter Monster (episode 223: Jonn Cleese), Lyle the Dog (episode 523: Linda Ronstadt), Male Ghost, The March Hare, Mean Mama (episode 201: Don Knotts, episode 211: Dom DeLuise, & episode 515: Carol Burnett), Mildred Huxtetter (episode 109: Charles Aznavour), Miss Kitty (episode 119: Vincent Price), Miss Piggy (1976 - 1977, occasionally), Ohboy Bird, Paul Revere (legs only), Quongo (episode 509: Debbie Harry), Ronald Duck, Salzburg Sauerkraut Singer, Scooter (1976 - 1992), The Showman, Statler (1976 - 1992), Sweetums (1976 - 1992), Tiny, Wayne, Winny, Youknow Bird (episode 218: Jaye P. Morgan), Zelda Rose (episode 308: Loretta Lynn)
- Fraggle Rock: Gunge, Junior Gorg, Beige Fraggle, Firechief Fraggle, Flex Doozer, Gillis Fraggle,Herkimer Fraggle, Genie, Mudwell the Mudbunny, The Odd Old Man, Storyteller Fraggle (episode 108 only), Turbo Doozer, Venerable Sage Lambo, Wizard
- The Great Santa Claus Switch: Bing
- The Ed Sullivan Show: Harrison
- The Frog Prince: Taminella Grinderfall (Muppetry only)
- The Muppets Valentine Show: Big Mouse
- Saturday Night Live: Wisss
- One to One: The Queen of Phumph
- The Muppet Show: Sex & Violence: Mildred Huxtetter, Crazy Harry, Hoggie Marsh, Lust, Ohboy Bird
- Peter Alexander präsentiert Spezialitäten 10: Bert
- Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas: Charlie Beaver, George Rabbit, Fred Lizard
- Christmas Eve on SESAME STREET (Extra Muppeteer)
- Little Muppet Monsters: Tug Monster, Beaker (animated), "Muppet Sports Shorts" Narrator
- The Muppet Movie: Scooter (1976 - 1992), Janice (1977 - 1992), Beaker (1977 - 1992), Sweetums (1976 - 1992) & Statler (1976 - 1992)
- The Great Muppet Caper: Scooter (1976 - 1992), Janice (1977 - 1992), Beaker (1977 - 1992), Sweetums (1976 - 1992) & Statler (1976 - 1992)
- The Muppets Take Manhattan: Scooter (1976 - 1992), Janice (1977 - 1992), Beaker (1977 - 1992), Statler (1976 - 1992) & Baby Scooter
- Follow That BIRD: Various GROUCH DON'T Drop Inn Diner Patrons, Gladys the Cow (1973 - 1992)
- The Tale of the Bunny Picnic: Lugsy
- A Muppet Family Christmas: Scooter (1976 - 1992), Janice (1977 - 1992), Beaker (1977 - 1992), Two-Headed Monster (1978 - 1992), Cow & The Snowman
- The Christmas Toy: Belmont
- Puppetman: Del Zivic (on-camera role), Gertha, Earl
- Inner Tube: Crasher
- The Ghost of Faffner Hall: The Wild Impresario
- The Cosby Show: Disagreeable Sandwich
- The Muppets at Walt Disney World: Scooter (1976 - 1992), Janice (1977 - 1992), Beaker (1977 - 1992) & Statler (1976 - 1992)
- Country Music with the Muppets: Dog, Sheep
- The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson: Scooter (1976 -1992) & Janice (1977 - 1992)
- Billy Bunny's Animal Songs: Edgar Bear, Raccoon 1
- HUNT was right-handed.
- Characters of RICHARD HUNT’s Muppeteer Veteran DAVID RUDMAN has performed once or consistently are:
- The Two-Headed Monster (right head): 1992 - present)
- Scooter: Studio DC : Almost Live hosted by Selena Gomez (2008) - present
- Janice: Studio DC : Almost Live hosted by Dylan & Cole Sprouse (2008) - present
- Sonny Friendly (1992 - 2000)
- Sully (1992 - 1999)
- Sweetums: The Cosby Show (1990)
- Dip the Cat (1992)
- Wayne: The Muppets (2011); Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
- Bobby Benson: The Muppets (2011); Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
- Beaker: The Muppets Take the Bowl (2017) - present
- Episode 3136 of SESAME STREET, which aired 22 months after his death, was dedicated in his memory, with a dedication sign following the credits.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol is dedicated "In loving memory of JIM HENSON & RICHARD HUNT".
- The book JIM HENSON: The Works & the SESAME STREET album We Are All Earthlings, both released in 1993, were dedicated to the memory of RICHARD HUNT.
- Sometimes, RICHARD HUNT would entertain visitors on the set by performing a character ordinarily played by another Muppeteer, assuming the voice & personality of whichever puppet was on-hand.
- ↑ I just got this info from Rachel Hunt, Richard’s sister
- ↑ Most online resources incorrectly list Hunt’s birthday as August 16th. Max Stein, personal correspondence with Jane Hunt, Richard’s mother.
- ↑ The Muppet Show press kit
- ↑ JIM HENSON: The Works, Christopher Finch, 1993.
- ↑ Ask HENSON.com question 60
- ↑ Angus, Terry. Muppet Central's Interview with Terry Angus
- ↑ Angus, Terry. Muppet Central's Interview with Terry Angus
- ↑ NELSON, Jerry Muppet Central’s Interview with JERRY NELSON
- ↑ The Muppet Movie credits alternate audio
- ↑ Studio DC Almost Live Hosted by Dylan & Cole Sprouse (I know the voices of the Muppets incredibly well & Jerry NELSON was totally doing the voice of Floyd but Matt Vogel performed the Muppetry). I would NEVER doubt Matt Vogel’s word, but it sounds more like Jerry than Matt to ME.
- ↑ Angus, Terry Muppet Central tribute
- ↑ HUNT’s Find A Grave page
- ↑ USA Today obituary
- ↑ Vogel, Matt. Interview with Muppeteer Matt Vogel, Part 2. The Muppet Mindset. March 28, 2010
- ↑ 1/17/1971 - 'Ed Sullivan Show - String Quartet' | JIM HENSON’s Red Book
- ↑ Of Muppets & Men
- ↑ JIM HENSON: The Works, Christopher Finch, 1993.
- Your Face!
- Muppet Central’s Tribute to RICHARD
- MuppetCast’s podcast Tribute to RICHARD
- RICHARD HUNT on IMDb
- RICHARD HUNT Cameos
- Muppet Performers
- Muppet Puppeteers
- Muppet Voice Actors
- Animated Voice Actors
- The RAINBOW Connection: RICHARD HUNT, Gay Muppeteer (zine)
- RICHARD HUNT on the Muppet Wiki
- RICHARD HUNT on the Puppet Wiki
- RICHARD HUNT on the OSCAR THE GROUCH Wiki
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